Q. Barnaby, tell us a bit more about your role and responsibilities
I’m heavily involved in the day-to-day work of the archive – responding to enquiries from within the organisation and from external researchers. I head up outreach, so manage social media posts, a monthly ‘Archive of the Month’ feature on the website, as well as one-off activities, such as thematic exhibitions and displays at specific events. I engage extensively with other departments over the transfer and acquisition of new material, endeavouring to develop more streamlined processes and I coordinate our digitisation programme. I’m also leading on the interdepartmental implementation and development of a robust digital preservation solution.
Q. What attracted you to Registered Membership?
During my training and studies as an archivist I’d heard about what was at that time the Registration Scheme. Then, when I heard about the launch of the new Professional Development Programme, I felt that the process of applying for Registered Membership would be a useful way of evaluating, structuring and building my experience – as well as being a logical next step after my postgraduate qualification.
I qualified over three years ago and have worked in the same (relatively small) institution since then, so I wanted to see where my skills and experience stood in relation to the competency framework. It’s all too easy to lose touch with the wider profession and get a bit rusty, particularly in terms of skills and technological developments. The programme seemed like a great way of maintaining a more robust connection and fit-for-purpose set of skills.
Q. We advise candidates to undertake a self-assessment of their experience using the competency framework. How useful was this?
Really useful! It highlighted areas where I fell short of the level I’d hoped to be at by this stage in my career, and in the context of my workplace. For the most part it was reassuring – and overall very useful as it indicated the competency areas I want to focus on, what I’d already achieved to demonstrate these competencies and what I needed to do in the coming years to improve my levels of experience. It was well worth doing early on, to frame my thinking about my own work, knowledge and training.
Going through the competency framework in detail also provided a positive reminder of the incredibly diverse range of responsibilities, skills and areas of knowledge involved in careers working with archives and records, and how there are always new things to learn and new areas for development.
Q. What advice would you offer to potential candidates?
Write everything down now! It’s alarmingly easy to forget something that would be very valuable evidence for one or more competencies. If you begin to think of your work in the terms of reference of the competency framework, all sorts of things will emerge and you’ll probably realise you’re more prepared, tick more boxes and score higher than at first you thought! Even if you’re not sure about enrolling yet, seek out, someone who is already registered and might be able to offer you advice. They may even go on to act as your mentor!
Published in ARC Magazine March 2019